What Damages Can I Collect in a Car Accident Claim?

Two Drivers Arguing After Traffic Accident looking at damage

If another driver is responsible for your accident, you may be able to recover damages in a car accident claim. If you have been in a car accident in Nevada, this can lead to substantial financial burdens on you. You may be facing recovery from injuries, along with extensive medical bills, rehabilitation, and lost income. You may also be facing repair costs to your vehicle. You can claim damages for expenses incurred, future expenses, and economic loss that you are likely to suffer. You may also claim damages for non-economic consequences, such as pain and suffering, and emotional suffering.

Types of Damages You Can Collect in a Car Accident Claim

Damages in a car accident claim refer to monetary compensation that you can receive from someone who caused your injuries, property damage, or some other form of harm. You receive damages as compensation through an insurance settlement payout or a lawsuit.

To be entitled to receive damages in a car accident, you will have to prove:

  • Another person caused the car accident
  • Your injuries or damages were a result of the accident
  • The expenses and losses that you have suffered are a result of your injuries sustained in the accident

There are two main types of damages in law. These are punitive, and compensatory damages. Punitive damages are aimed at punishing a wrongdoer for a deliberate act, or gross negligence, that caused harm, to deter him or her and others from such bad behavior.

Compensatory damages are meant to compensate the victim for expenses or harm resulting from the at-fault person’s negligence. Compensatory damages can be separated into two categories. These are economic damages, otherwise referred to as special damages, and non-economic, or general, damages.

Special Damages

Special damages reimburse you for specific expenses and losses related to your injury or property damage. Because they compensate you for specific losses, they have a monetary value that you can calculate. They include bills directly related to your accident.

These expenses cover injury-related and medical expenses. This includes costs already incurred, including ambulance costs, surgeries, medication, the bill from the emergency room, and the doctor’s bills. It also includes costs that you are likely to incur going forward, such as ongoing treatment, rehabilitation expenses, and the cost of household assistance that your injury may have necessitated. While amounts vary from case to case, in 2018 the average liability claim for bodily injury was approximately $15,785.

Aside from medical costs, your injury may have caused you to lose wages while recovering from your injuries or have diminished earning capacity in the future. You can claim lost wages and future loss of income as damages.

You can also claim property-related damages, which would be reimbursement for repairs to your vehicle, or for the cost to replace your vehicle if it can’t be repaired. It may also include the costs of a rental car while your vehicle is being repaired or replaced. Any other items that were damaged or destroyed in the accident can also be claimed.

These damages have precise dollar amounts associated with each item. Because of this, the damages can be calculated as follows:

  • Past medical expenses – these are calculated by adding up past doctor’s bills. This can be done using invoices and receipts.
  • Future medical expenses – this can be calculated based on the prescribed course of treatment.
  • Lost earnings – your rate of pay multiplied by the time that you missed work. Future loss of earnings can be calculated by taking what you were earning, and subtracting what you will be able to earn in the future after your injuries.
  • Vehicle and other property damage – you calculate this using invoices and receipts from the repair shop, or replacement value if your property is damaged beyond repair.

Your car accident lawyer will assist you in making these calculations, to ensure that your claim adequately covers all your damages.

General Damages

General damages compensate you for intangible harm that you have suffered because of another person’s negligence or fault. They don’t have a specific dollar value and can be subjective, making them more difficult to calculate than specific damages.

General damages are awarded for a wide range of things. These typically include physical pain, disfigurement, including scarring or the loss of a limb, a physical impairment or disability, emotional distress, and mental health problems. They may also include an inability to engage in activities such as hobbies, future pain and suffering, or generally reduced quality and loss of enjoyment of life.

Physical injuries are not required for you to be able to claim general damages. General damages can also be claimed for emotional injuries. However, general damages are much more likely to be awarded when the accident caused permanent disfigurement or loss of function. They are also awarded more often when physical injuries are verifiable through x-rays or medical tests, medical bills are high, or recovery took a long time or was difficult.

General damages are much more difficult than special damages to prove and calculate. This is because they aren’t tangible, they do not have bills, receipts, or invoices associated with them. They are also subjective and are based on how the victim feels. It can be difficult to know how to claim an emotional injury after a car accident.

Proving General Damages

There are ways that general damages are usually proven. These include:

Medical records and medical witnesses. X-rays and test results may be sufficient to establish that an injury is severe enough to lead to pain, suffering, or other grounds on which general damages are awarded. A treating medical expert can also testify on disability, loss of physical functions, or physical pain, for which he or she is treating the victim.

Testimony by friends, family, co-workers, or associates. While you may be able to testify of your own suffering, it is useful to have other people do it as well. This corroborates your testimony, could be viewed as more objective, and can give details demonstrating how your life and behavior have changed since the accident.

For example, you may have stopped going to social events, participating in hobbies, or undergone behavioral changes such as becoming more withdrawn or irritable. These changes are more easily testified to by someone other than yourself.

Treatment by a counselor or mental health professional. While counselling may not be necessary for things such as pain and suffering, it might be needed if you are claiming damages that are mental or emotional. A mental health professional can help establish that you are suffering from things such as depression, anxiety, or insomnia.

It will help to get a lawyer for a car accident to assist you with your claim. Calculating general damages can be tricky, and your lawyer will help with determining and justifying an amount that is fair for you to claim.

Nevada Accident Laws

When considering making a claim for damages, there are several laws in Nevada that you should consider, as these can have a considerable impact on both your claims process and the amount of damages that you claim.

Statute of Limitations

A statute of limitations is basically a deadline for you to file a lawsuit. If the amount of time stipulated in the statute of limitations has passed, then you will not be permitted to file a lawsuit, and you will lose your claim.

There are two different statutes of limitations that apply in a Nevada accident, depending on the damages suffered. The first is where you are seeking to recover damages for the injuries or death of a person, and the injuries or death were caused by a wrongful act or neglect of another person. For example, when a driver, passenger, or pedestrian was injured by someone else who was at fault in causing a crash.

In this situation, the statute of limitations imposes a two-year deadline to file a personal injury claim, meaning that you have two years from the time of the accident in which to file a lawsuit. If the accident resulted in the death of another person, the family, or representative of the person can file a wrongful death lawsuit. The same two-year deadline applies, but the two years start counting down from the date of the death of the person, rather than the accident itself.

The second statute of limitations applies where the claim is for vehicle or property damage suffered in an accident that was caused by another person. The time limit to file a claim seeking compensation for the vehicle or property damage is three years from the date of the accident.

These statutes of limitations apply to filing lawsuits and not insurance claims. Insurance claims usually require you to make a claim within a reasonable time of the accident, usually days or weeks at most. However, the insurance claims process can take time, and you will need to be careful that your time limit in terms of the statute of limitations does not pass while you are busy with the claims process. If you are coming close to the deadline while making an insurance claim, you should contact a car accident attorney to advise you on whether to file a lawsuit and avoid losing the option of bringing your claim to court.

From the time of the accident, you should keep and document everything to assist in proving both your case and your damages. You should record all events in detail and keep a copy of the police report, details of other drivers and witnesses, and take pictures of the damaged vehicles as well as injuries. You should also keep medical records, as well as bills, and receipts for both medical treatment and vehicle repairs.

Comparative Negligence in Car Accident Cases in Nevada

Any person who is responsible for causing car accidents in Vegas is generally liable to compensate any other party who has suffered losses because of an accident. The person responsible for causing an accident is legally considered at fault, and negligence is a form of fault.

In Nevada, there is a principle known as comparative fault. This is also referred to as “comparative negligence,” “shared fault,” or “modified comparative negligence.” What this principle means, is that if you are also partly at fault for the accident, then the amount of your fault will be determined as a percentage, and your claim will be reduced by that percentage.

For example, a car may pull out in front of you from a side road while you are driving, resulting in an accident. In this case, the other driver is to blame for the accident and would be liable to compensate you. If you were speeding, and it was found that your speeding contributed 20% to the accident, then the damages that you can claim are reduced by 20%. So, if you were awarded $10,000 in damages, then your claim is reduced by 20%, and you will only be awarded $8,000 compensation.

If you are 51% or more to blame for the accident, then you will not be able to claim at all.

A car accident lawyer will be able to investigate your case and make sure that you have a strong claim for your damages. He or she can:

  • Locate and interview witnesses.
  • Review the accident report and your medical records.
  • Calculate and substantiate your special damages.
  • Calculate and justify your general damages.
  • Negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf for a fair settlement.
  • Create a legal strategy and take your case to trial if necessary.

Before your case makes it all the way to trial, you will likely receive a settlement offer. This will either be from the person responsible for your damages, or his or her insurance company. You can negotiate for a settlement amount, but if you and the other party cannot come to an agreement on a settlement amount, the case may progress to trial.